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Wednesday, 21 March 2007 23:31

Shuttle Atlantis probably delayed until mid-May

NASA will announce officially no earlier than 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday March 21st the status of STS-117 and the Atlantis mission to the International Space Station.

However, speculation, along with recently released NASA documents, indicate a targeted May 11th launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis for its rendezvous with the ISS.

A teleconference will be held following a meeting to review options to repair the shuttle’s external fuel tank (ET). The tank and shuttle were damaged on February 26 during a hailstorm while they stood on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The teleconference can be listened live at NASA Audio News.

Space Shuttle Atlantis has been inside the Vehicle Assembly Building as it undergoes repairs from highbay 1. Repairs to the thermal protection system tiles on Atlantis are almost complete. Technicians are now re-spraying foam on the top portion of the ET, the part that was damaged during the hailstorm. Extensive engineering evaluations and testing of the repairs will be necessary before Atlantis is allowed to fly.

During the eleven-day mission of STS-117, the crewmembers will install a new truss segment, retract a currently installed set of solar arrays, and unfold a new, third set of solar arrays on the starboard side of the space station.

The STS-117 crew consists of commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Lee Archambault, and mission specialists Jim Reilly, Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson and John Olivas.

Atlantis must fly by May 21 due to its launch window, which involves the positioning of the Sun respect to the docking of the shuttle while at the space station. If it misses that deadline, NASA will have to wait until June 8th at the earliest for another attempt.

NASA Audio News appears at: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/news_audio.html.

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